How to keep a lid on a well kept secret...
Originally created by Jim Lee in 1993 in the Wildstorm universe, Stormwatch makes its return in DC’s New 52. Can the new Stormwatch reach the heights of its predecessors under Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda?
Adam One leads part of the Stormwatch team to the Himalayas to retrieve a mysterious horn whilst the rest of Stormwatch go to Moscow to recruit Apollo. Oh yes and the Eminence of Blades is checking out what’s wrong with the moon.
· Firstly, although I’m not familiar with Stormwatch, it was a great idea to integrate parts of Wildstorm into the DC Universe. It really showed that DC is keen on merging its franchises under the New 52 roof. Then again, Jim Lee is one of the main bosses behind the New 52 so he probably arranged to bring Stormwatch back. In any case, the idea of a clandestine, secret organisation that’s been around for centuries unknown even to the superheroes and headed by a Shadow Cabinet is a fantastic idea.
· In the first issue, Cornell manages to successfully outline what the role of each member is (or will be) as well as their power set. Adam One is the leader, Engineer runs headquarters, the Projectionist covers the team’s tracks from the media, Jack Hawksmoor talks to cities, Jenny Quantum is the deus ex machina, Martian Manhunter is the Swiss Army Knife, the Eminence of Blades is the dodgy member, Apollo will be the ‘Superman level’ member whilst Midnighter is the guy who can win a fight in his head before proceeding to beat the tar out of you. In this respect, Cornell successfully sums up each character’s role on the team.
· The new characters on Stormwatch are surprisingly appealing. Adam One serving as immortal mentor to ‘century babies’ is an interesting concept for the leader and his ‘holier than thou’ attitude plays out for some great conflicts between the unruly Engineer. Projectionist’s ability to connect with all Earth media provides a unique power set that hasn’t been seen before and the Eminence of Blades gives the reader a badass swordsman on the team. These new characters intrigue the reader and make us empathise with them straight away as characters on this team.
· Another strength of Cornell’s writing is that he delivers on massive cosmic scale threats. A giant horn being blown, the moon’s lunar surface generating quakes and moon monsters that appear to threaten the earth along with an entity inside it called the ‘Scourge of Worlds’ that makes worlds stronger for devastation ramp up the intensity of the story. The pacing at which the story occurs is pitch perfect in issue one and progresses at a sensible rate at which the reader can easily follow.
· Also, Cornell links between other titles fluidly in issue one. The horn that was blown came from Superman #1 whilst it is hinted that Cornell’s other title, Demon Knights was a predecessor to Stormwatch. By connecting the book to other titles, Cornell establishes that despite the secrecy and the fact even the superheroes don’t know Stormwatch exists, the story is happening in this new universe.
· The fight between Stormwatch, Apollo and Midnighter provides some short but sweet action scenes that showcase Jack, Martian Manhunter, Apollo and Midnighter’s powers with entertaining results. Martian Manhunter’s shapeshifting, Jack’s control over the cities by making the room seem upside down and Midnighter wiping out half of Stormwatch makes for an awesome read.
· Miguel Sepvulda’s art is amazing. The action scenes are drawn with dynamic pencils and visceral inks, the streets of Moscow are rendered wonderfully and exotic locations like the Himalayas and the surface of the moon let Sepvulda show off his talent. Brilliant artwork to complement a fantastic story.
· One story problem however. When Apollo hits Martian Manhunter square in the face, he doesn’t appear to react or be hurt. Yet J’onn states that he has to change his form in order to equal him after one punch where he wasn’t hurt. Makes no sense.
· Also, I don’t see why the horn had to be blown in Superman. It took up one page and made no sense to the story going on in Superman. I’m sure that one page could’ve been spared for the blowing of the horn in Stormwatch.
· Finally, whilst the cover’s good, the one that has the blue background is better than the one with the red background.
This is an insanely fun, intriguing team book that definitely made a positive impact in the New 52. I’d definitely recommend picking this up along with the rest of the series so far and adding this to your pull list!